Sunburn and skin cancer see spike in GP visits

New data shows skin cancer and sunburn are one of the top 10 reasons Australians visit their GP every year, prompting an urgent sun safety warning from Cancer Council.

The data* shows consultations for skin cancer and sunburn were the ninth largest cause of GP consultations in Australia, with sunburn alone among the top 30 reasons for an appointment annually.

Cancer Council Queensland spokesperson Katie Clift said the figures reinforced the need for Queenslanders to get more serious about sun safety.

“It’s concerning to see skin cancer and sunburn among the top 10 reasons that Australians are visiting their GPs every year,” Ms Clift said.

“Sunburn and the majority of skin cancers are preventable through taking care in the sun – it is vital for all Queenslanders to take sun safety more seriously.

“Many Queenslanders don’t realise their risk of skin damage and sunburn is still high as we head into cooler months – it’s imperative we don’t become complacent about being SunSmart.

“Sunburn is a serious sign of skin damage, which increases the risk of skin cancer. Queenslanders should avoid sunburn at all costs.

“Your lifetime tally of UV radiation exposure, together with the number of severe sunburns, increases your risk of skin cancer.

“Once skin damage occurs, it is impossible to reverse, which means sun protection is key to a cancer free future.”

Cancer Council further warned that the symptoms of sunburn can be so severe that medical attention should be sought.

“First degree sunburn is known as mild sunburn that reddens and inflames the skin – second degree sunburn is a more serious reddening of the skin and water blisters,” Ms Clift said.

“Third degree sunburn requires medical attention. You should see your doctor if you experience blistering, headaches, nausea, vomiting, dizziness or severe pain.”

Cancer Council has warned of the increased risks of sunburn and skin damage over holiday periods, with more Queenslanders spending time outdoors on public holidays.

“Queenslanders should make the most of the public holidays and enjoy the sunshine state – while staying SunSmart and protecting themselves from the sun,” Ms Clift said.

“Follow all five recommended sun protective behaviours – Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek and Slide – when the UV Index is three or above – which it is all year round in Queensland.

More than 3600 Queenslanders are diagnosed with melanoma each year, and it is estimated that over 350,000 non-melanoma skin cancers are treated.

Queensland locals can download the SunSmart app for free at

More information about Cancer Council Queensland is available at or 13 11 20.

For more information or interviews, please contact:
Katie Clift,
Executive Manager,
Media and Spokesperson,
Cancer Council Queensland
Phone: (07) 3634 5372
Mobile: 0409 001 171